In 2005, the Legislature implemented the essential programs and services model of allocating state resources for K-12 education. This model considers the cost to each community of providing essential resources to meet the needs of its students to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to be successful. At the same time, it respects Maine's long-cherished tradition of local control over education decisions. In addition, the Legislature increased school funding by $250 million. As a result, Gorham, Scarborough and Westbrook all received significantly greater funding from the state for its schools.
Although Maine does a good job of educating students from kindergarten through high school, we have one of the lowest college graduation rates in the country. In an economy that is increasingly service-based and heavily reliant on advanced skills, this inhibits Maine's ability to recruit employers. To remedy this problem, the culture must change so that every student is encouraged to obtain post-secondary education. At the same time, we must ensure that there is a strong community college system to meet the diverse needs of our students and that is accessible to all
Unfortunately, too many students who are accepted at schools within the University of Maine system (including USM) are unable to attend due to the high tuition rates. We should provide scholarships and other forms of financial aid to bridge the gap between an accepted student's ability to pay and the cost of attending. This would ensure that students who work hard and are offered a place in the University of Maine system are not denied a college education based solely upon an inability to pay.